Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches
All Souls Trilogy #1
Deborah Harkness
Genre: Paranormal
A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together. 

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.
Instant attraction. Slow-burn romance.

Reading A Discovery of Witches made me think of a question I posed in one of my YA book reviews: What do you know about true love at 16? All sixteen-year-olds out there who are “in love” would vehemently defend their feelings and assure me their depths. I would have when I was at that age. I thought I knew everything. But Diana and Matthew’s love and romance, the way it developed, it withstood tests of trust and honesty, it solidified. That was true. 

Romance with vampires was always thought to be fraught with danger, excitement and all the action and intensity extracted from it being dark and forbidden. You would feel the urgency, the fast-track, non-stop motion, giving you a whiplash. But the courtship between Matthew and Diana was a slow-burn romance, a discovery, of finding and learning about each other. There were no grand gestures, just random occurrences that happened and everything just fell into place. The I love yous, that signal to me that “love and togetherness” officially commenced, were said just weeks after they met. I would’ve cried foul and shouted Instalove! before but not this time because it was done right and at the right point in time. 

Matthew Clairmont. Sparkly?

Some reviews mentioned about it being similar to Twilight especially the character of Matthew Clairmont with that of Edward Cullen. There was a point where I was afraid it was so but it was so fleeting, so infinitesimal that it was negligible. Whereas they both were brooding, overprotective vampires, Matthew showed the wisdom, the strength, the intelligence, the maturity and the good sense that comes with living for so long. Edward, on the other hand, remained a teenager masquerading as 105-year-old vampire. 

With great power comes great trial.

Was Diana a Mary Sue because she had all these powers and could use them instinctually? No, because I took into account that she’s the scion of two powerful parents and she’s an intelligent woman (thank goodness). Rather, I’m looking at this as part of her coming into terms with who she is and I bet that this seemingly being superpowered will be a source of trial. It started already. 

My love of history.

What I love most about A Discovery of Witches is the complete and utter utilization of history that is rooted in archival evidence and anecdotal accounts. I drooled at the comprehensive and exhaustive research done to make it more believable, more real. Oh my goodness, that detailed history. I was with Diana when she was uncovering, bit by bit, her legacy, her heritage. I wandered the halls of Oxford and trailed my fingers along the spines of the books. 


How do you express the feelings you have once you finished a magnificent book? How do you measure the depth of story and character development that spanned this book? How do you convey the satisfaction with how the romance once handled? How do you demonstrate your excitement to read the next book? 

By doing a lot, and potentially embarrassing, fangirling.
Ayanami Faerudo

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadow Study by Maria V. Snyder

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine. This meme spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.
Shadow Study
Study #4
Maria V. Snyder
Expected Publication: February 25, 2015
Genre: YA Fantasy
New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder wowed readers with Poison Study, the unforgettable story of poison taster Yelena. Now she's back with a new tale of intrigue.

Once, only her own life hung in the balance.

Oddly enough, when Yelena was a poison taster, her life was simpler. But she'd survived to become a vital part of the balance of power between rival countries Ixia and Sitia. Now she uses her magic to keep the peace in both lands and protect her relationship with Valek.

Suddenly, though, they are beset on all sides by those vying for power through politics and intrigue. Valek's job - and his life - are in danger. As Yelena tries to uncover the scope of these plots, she faces a new challenge: her magic is blocked. She must keep that a secret - or her enemies will discover just how vulnerable she really is - while searching for who or what is responsible for neutralizing her powers.

Yes, the days of tasting poisons were much simpler. And certainly not as dangerous.
Yelena and Valek are back!!!
Ayanami Faerudo

Mini Review: Tortured Souls by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Tortured Souls
Orion Circle #1
Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Genre: YA Paranormal
Sometimes Rest in Peace isn't an option...

Kacie Ramsey sees ghosts—and it's ruining her life. Her mother left, her father blames her, and no matter how hard she tries, she can't keep the ghosts away. Now a new power has emerged. Nightly visions of grisly murders and a relentless predator draw her to the brink of insanity.

When the phantom appears at a party, Kacie's longtime crush, Logan, saves her. He invites her to join the Orion Circle, a group of supernatural hunters with chapters in schools all over the country. Through the Circle, Kacie learns to embrace her spiritual powers, and for the first time in her life she feels in control rather than a victim.

But the Foxblood Demon will not give up so easily. A demented serial killer in life who trapped the souls of the thirteen children he murdered, imprisoning them within the walls of his mansion. Now in death, he plots his return while drawing power from the pure souls of the children. He recognizes something in Kacie he's never seen before—a medium powerful enough to provide a vessel for his tainted soul.

Kacie can't ignore the tortured souls of the children crying out to her every night. With Logan at her side, she will fight the Foxblood Demon. But can they banish this powerful phantom, or will Kacie lose not only her body, but her eternal soul to the monster.
It was rather tame unlike the other paranormal stories I’ve read. In fact, all I could think of was softness and fragility that characterized the presence of Kacie and the others’ interaction with her. The paranormal stuff that went about her didn’t exactly scream danger and intrigue despite the tone of her visions and dreams. As I said, softness and fragility were hanging around Kacie. 

That extended to her relationship with Logan which I think was kind of fast. Not in that way. It was not instalove but I think I’ll just chalk up this up to them being typical teenagers though their relationship was one of the smoothest I’ve ever read in YA. The only other relationship I could think of that equates with what they had was between Yuki and Cal from the Spirit Guide series. Logan is perhaps one of the most affectionate and tactile book boyfriends and one of the few whose affections I entirely believed. Other YA boys are sometimes too intense and too hormonal. Logan is sweet but strength flows from him at the same time. 

Ugh, I’m rambling but with a good reason. To be honest, I have seen the likes of Tortured Souls in one form or another in other YA books HOWEVER what Tortured Souls have within the depths of its pages is the intrigue and mystery that kept me interested all throughout the opening chapters (perhaps the most crucial part of the book besides the ending). It also helped that it was fast paced and kind of light. More questions are yet to be answered and I would read the next book.
Ayanami Faerudo

Feature and Follow Friday: A Book Character Who Tweets

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!

Today's Feature & Follow Friday question is:

Book character(s) you'd like to see with their own Twitter page 

- suggested by A Great Read

I like snark. Snark is good. Humor and fun are good, too. The book character that comes to mind who talks that way is Puck, the version from Julie Kagawa's The Iron Fey series. There was one Twitter chat with the book characters and Puck was great fun.
Ayanami Faerudo

Book Review: Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White

Illusions of Fate
Kiersten White
Genre: YA Paranormal
Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare in this lush, romantic fantasy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

“I did my best to keep you from crossing paths with this world. And I shall do my best to protect you now that you have.”

Jessamin has been an outcast since she moved from her island home of Melei to the dreary country of Albion. Everything changes when she meets Finn, a gorgeous, enigmatic young lord who introduces her to the secret world of Albion’s nobility, a world that has everything Jessamin doesn’t—power, money, status…and magic. But Finn has secrets of his own, dangerous secrets that the vicious Lord Downpike will do anything to possess. Unless Jessamin, armed only with her wits and her determination, can stop him.

Kiersten White captured readers’ hearts with her New York Times bestselling Paranormalcy trilogy and its effortless mix of magic and real-world teenage humor. She returns to that winning combination of wit, charm, and enchantment in Illusions of Fate, a sparkling and romantic new novel perfect for fans of Cassandra Clare, The Madman’s Daughter, and Libba Bray.
She was in trouble. Alleys are great shortcuts but you need to be a blackbelt in at least two martial arts to safely navigate them; or you've been minding your cardio exercises. And then that blessed voice. 
"There you are, darling. So sorry I'm late."
I did a double-take.


•And that, my friends, set the tone of my mood as I read Illusions of Fate. I had the soundtrack of Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle in loop in my head. Trust me, it suited the tones of the book well.

•I couldn't help but superimpose things from the movie (I've read the book but it's easier to visualize the movie and I liked it better), finding similarities like the doors of Finn's house leading to rooms not necessarily in the same house or even the same country and the door of Howl's castle which could lead to another place by turning a dial; then, the characters themselves: Finn and Howl (although they have some different characteristics) and then Jessamin and Sophie (Jessa's more sassy and outgoing unlike Sophie's who's...soft and gentle).

•You would think that it would lessen my liking for Illusions of Fate because of the similarities - it heightened my enjoyment!

•I must be getting good at all this guessing thing; the guessing thing being speculating the effects of one scene and the significance of the other. I knew something was up when the story introduced Kelen and painted a touch awful about his lot.

•If a Finn Ackerly entered my life, he’d be too good to be true (and I'd totally want him). I would be in constant disbelief for having a boy as kind, thoughtful, playfully mischievous, and devoted as him. Was he too perfect? Meh, I didn’t care. All I cared about was where I could get one like him.

•This book was not set in our world. However, Albion and the Iverian Continent (with countries like Saxxone and Gallen) bore a significant resemblance to the United Kingdom and continental Europe. Melei would then be a representation of the British colonies.

•There was good deal of a talk about racism here. In fact, Jessamin, our sassy heroine, was a product of a short affair between a married Alben man and a Melei woman. Her father left her mother, not caring about her and their child. There was also the bullying of Jessamin at her school in Albion.

•Illusions of Fate. The question of whether you are on your right path, the choices you have to make at crossroads… and there is that, choice. Jessamin realized that her fate was decided only by her and no one else.
Ayanami Faerudo
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